The year 2020 brought unprecedented challenges to the UT Southwestern community, our country, and the world.
Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic – from the health care heroes caring for patients on the front lines to the scientists in laboratories working toward understanding more about the virus and infection – brought out the best of UT Southwestern. Our faculty, staff, students, and trainees adjusted to the demands of the pandemic, embracing virtual learning and remote work under a new normal. Against the backdrop of racial and political unrest, we remained compassionate, confident, focused, and strong. An outpouring of generosity from many in the DFW community helped support all of our efforts. In this Year in Review, take a look back at 2020 with us and see how UT Southwestern rose to the challenges of the past year to meet the needs of the community and advance the future of medicine.
2020 News Coverage Highlights
Courage in the face of COVID-19
When COVID-19 hit North Texas, UT Southwestern was already deep into preparations for its response to the pandemic. Over the course of the year, the institution would step up by expanding testing, offering clinical trials, conducting research, developing a sophisticated forecasting model, and counseling local, state, and national policymakers. All the while, UT Southwestern diligently protected the safety of its people under the steady hand of President Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky – leading with integrity and compassion.
Safety procedures went into effect around campus to protect patients, visitors, and clinical staff at hospitals, clinics, and other facilities, including a drive-through testing facility and a special COVID-19 ward at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital. Assisted by the Information Resources team, thousands of employees quickly shifted to remote work.
As the virus began to reach pandemic proportions in the spring, UT Southwestern initiated daily email emergency updates for the campus community, set up an email box to answer all questions, and established a website to gather all COVID-19 information. In April, President Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky began holding weekly briefings.
At William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, doctors and nurses donned personal protective equipment daily to care for COVID-19 patients separated from their closest family by the infectious disease. The commitment and compassion of these health care heroes became a symbol of the community’s fight against the pandemic.
To track the course of the virus in North Texas, experts in bioinformatics, internal medicine, and emergency medicine collaborated to create a sophisticated forecasting model to show the spread of COVID-19 and predict its trajectory. The model, updated regularly, continues to provide valuable data for government and health care leaders in developing responses to the ongoing pandemic.
Virtual care was accelerated into overdrive to help patients keep routine medical appointments without any risk of infection. A UT Southwestern study revealed that expanded telehealth services proved effective at delivering patient care. As of September, virtual care accounted for 25-30 percent of patient care interactions, equating to more than 2,000 patient visits per day.
Several of the Medical Center’s physicians created public service announcements about COVID-19 in more than a dozen languages to inform our diverse community about the importance of wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and using good hygiene to limit the spread of COVID-19. The short PSAs provide basic, useful information such as how to properly wear a mask.
Groundbreaking research through the COVID-19 Prevalence Study
UT Southwestern’s COVID-19 Prevalence Study, in partnership with Texas Health Resources, local organizations, and community leaders, seeks to understand how many people have the virus and why some communities are hit harder than others.
Give scientists a challenge and they will pursue it with ferocious tenacity. In 2020, the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19 unleashed more than 200 research projects.
Academic leaders reacted quickly and creatively to help medical students, residents, and other learners stay on track during the pandemic.
UT Southwestern’s health care heroes rose to the challenge of COVID-19, never giving up on their commitment to save lives.
UT Southwestern made a concerted effort to connect with the community this year – before and then after the pandemic that brought unique challenges – in new and different ways.
As heartbreaking as 2020 has been, the COVID-19 pandemic also brought out the best in the community.